National EAS and WEA testing will start on Wednesday at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

Tomorrow around 2 p.m. on the East Coast and 12 p.m. Colorado time, our cell phones will all join each other in blasting out a tone that will make everyone cringe.

No, the cellphones have not banded to together to drive us insane (but I’m pretty sure that’s coming Skynet-style). And there isn’t a major national emergency happening. It’s a test of our national alert systems to ensure they are functioning properly.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday. This is the backup date for the original test, which was scheduled for September 20 but was postponed due to Hurricane Florence.

“The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed,” FEMA says.

Before you spend a ton of time trying to turn off these notifications, you can’t. It’s not an opt-out type of alert, so, you’ll just have to be ready for that infernal, nails-on-a-chalkboard tone when the WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT.

That is 12:18 p.m. and 12:20 p.m., respectively, for those of us in Colorado. Of course, if you put your phone on silent, you won’t hear the tone.

How Does This Whole Thing Work?

The messages will be sent to compatible, powered-up cellphones that are within range of active cell towers of participating providers (so pretty much everyone’s phone). The towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. Some cell phones will not receive the message, according to FEMA, and those that do receive it should only get it once.

The message will feature the heading "Presidential Alert," and a message that reads as follows: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

“The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency,” FEMA says. You can learn more about the tests on the FEMA site.

Alerts are coming. Be ready, and please share this with others, as it’s inevitable that people won’t know the tests are scheduled. Let’s do our part to keep the nationwide panic to a minimum.